A new study, published online in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, suggests that eating fruits and vegetables may help reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, according to Science Daily.
Researchers at The Ohio State University asked parents of more than 130 kids with ADHD symptoms to complete a detailed questionnaire about the foods their children ate, including portion sizes, over 90 days.
The team also asked parents to rate symptoms of inattention in their children, such as having trouble staying focused, difficulty remembering things, and difficulty regulating emotions, among others.
The study’s co-author Dr. Irene Hatsu said the study showed that kids who consumed more fruits and vegetables showed less severe symptoms of inattention, per Science Daily.
She said, “Eating a healthy diet, including fruits and vegetables, may be one way to reduce some of the symptoms of ADHD.
Another study, published last year in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, examined the efficacy of a 36-ingredient vitamin and mineral supplement to treat ADHD symptoms and poor emotional control in the study participants aged between 6 and 12.
The researchers found that these supplements significantly improved ADHD and emotional dysregulation symptoms in children.
In yet another study, published this year in the journal Nutrients, kids with families who had higher levels of food insecurity were more likely to show more severe symptoms of emotional dysregulation.
All three studies paint a similar picture, according to Dr. Hatsu. She said. “A healthy diet that provides all the nutrients that children require can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children.”
“What clinicians usually do when kids with ADHD start having more severe symptoms is increase the dose of their treatment medication, if they are on one, or put them on medication,” Dr. Hatsu noted. “Our studies suggest that it is worthwhile to check the children’s access to food as well as the quality of their diet to see if it may be contributing to their symptom severity.”
She went on to explain that experts believe ADHD is associated with lower levels of some brain chemicals, vitamins, and minerals, affecting brain function.
Dr. Hatsu said, “Everyone tends to get irritated when they’re hungry and kids with ADHD are no exception. If they’re not getting enough food, it could make their symptoms worse.”
“We believe clinicians should assess the food security status of children with ADHD before creating or changing a treatment program,” she explained. “Some symptoms might be more manageable by helping families become more food secure and able to provide a healthier diet.”